You can imagine a man like Markus Jooste will use up every delay tactic available, says Hoffman

Paul Hoffman SC, director of Accountability Now, joined the BizNews Power Hour to weigh in on charges brought against Markus Jooste. The ex-Steinhoff CEO has been charged with fraud in Germany. Hoffman details how the extradition process would work, to see Jooste face his charges in Germany. – Jarryd Neves

Paul Hoffman on whether the media should pay attention to corrupt corporate bosses, like Markus Jooste:

I think that’s a fair question. The answer is that public anger tends to be focused on politicians and public servants, because it’s clear that the misappropriation that is taking place is misappropriation of public money. Whereas when there is corruption between different business entities or within a business entity, it is shareholders money that is affected. Shareholders can vote with their feet and vote with their investments, whereas the public in general just pays tax and bleeds.

On whether Markus Jooste will face the music in Germany:

I think that is certainly on the cards. Given the fact that our National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is in such disarray, it might be a relief to the NPA in South Africa that he is sent to face the music in Germany – where the criminal justice administration works along inquisitorial rather than adversarial lines and is certainly much stronger than it is in South Africa.

It has not been a victim of state capture. In fact, constitutional democracy in Germany is as strong as it is anywhere else in the world. Since the leadership of Konrad Adenauer after World War II, they learned their lesson very well in Germany and are great advocates of the rule of law and constitutional democracy.

I think that if the investigations in Germany are done with normal German precision, he will have a lot to answer for. The investigations in South Africa are rather hobbled by the fact that the NPA does not have it at its command, the forensic accounting skills that are needed to unravel many years of the balance sheet fraud. There’s a lot of work involved in proving beyond a reasonable doubt that Marcus Jooste was involved in all of the shenanigans that went on on the balance sheets of the various entities in the Steinhoff Group.

On state capture:

State capture is the repurposing of the state, to suit the agenda of a greedy patronage network or cartel that decides that it would like to have the benefits of the taxpayer’s largesse – the state’s income. In relation to the NPA, what has happened in the Zuma years has been a huge hollowing out of its capacity to counter corruption.

Those with long memories will recall that when Zuma came to power in December 2007, the National Prosecuting Authority had a unit of bright-eyed and bushy tailed investigators and prosecutors who were called the Scorpions. They were making life very difficult for people with the propensities that Zuma has apparently displayed over the years.

The first thing that the Zuma administration did was urgently resolve to close the Scorpions down and they were closed down. He then had to appoint a new national director of public prosecutions, and he made such a poor appointment that the Constitutional Court confirmed decisions of lower courts that it was irrational to put in charge of the prosecuting authority, a man who was known to have lied under oath in an inquiry.

On how the extradition process for Markus Jooste would work:

That is a strong possibility. Because the inquisitorial system works quite differently, the accused person sees the whites of the eyes of the investigating magistrate – who is a rather more imposing figure than a policeman on the beat –  and that feature of the direct confrontation in the inquisitorial system, which is different to ours, where the judge sits po-faced on the bench and watches the cricket match being played in front of him – but does not descended to the arena like an investigating magistrate does.

It’s quite possible – we’re talking speculation at the moment, I’ve got no evidence at the moment – but it’s quite possible that somebody has decided that his future is better served, by blowing the whistle or ratting out the co-conspirators in the whole Steinhoff debacle. That would certainly make it a quicker exercise.

What [the Germans] do is they approach the South African government with letters of request. The South African government then processes that request and Markus Jooste is obviously entitled to have his say in that process. If the courts so decide an extradition order is granted, it will have the effect of him being taken off in shackles to face the music in Germany.

On the likelihood of Markus Jooste in a German court:

You can imagine that a man like Markus Jooste will insist that his right to a fair trial – and clearly an extradition is a form of a judicial proceedings against him. He will use up every delaying tactic that is available, he will appeal and review all the way that the law allows, which could involve multiple appeals to the Supreme Court of Appeal and even to the Constitutional Court.

That could indeed delay the matter. I think you will find that the South African authorities will be motivated to get Markus Jooste on the plane to Germany, because it frees up a lot of capacity within the criminal justice administration to deal with other fallout from state capture.

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